Mea Culpa, If You Like

I’m sorry if I haven’t said “Sorry,”
since I’m usually good about guilt.
Of that capacity you could fill a lorry
with enough remorse a prison could be built.

I’ve taken all your reproaches to heart,
even though some of my sins are projection,
that might have been formed and thrown on your part.
I’m sure it’s your form of self-protection.

Now, let’s get back to the subject at hand,
my mea culpa for sins you think I did.
It’s my safekeeping you don’t understand,
and due to my dutiful ways I hid.

But here’s what you want, “I apologize.”
Let’s see how much real acceptance that buys.

The Scars That Never Stop Hurting

He didn’t know how to make peace with his past. What offering of acceptable remorse exists when the past, in whatever personage or spirit, listens naught and averts its eyes at the mere thought of him? He’d try, “I’m sorry,” but seven letters hanging off-kilter from an apostrophe can get blown sideways and lost in the winds between two people, two different lives from what came before. His mind has lost its edge and quickness since its days of serving up scars even before others knew the sting of his cut. Now his life is not much more than a scar, something to look at and recall all those wounds he administered across his lifetime. So he waits upon his cold chair for that final felling wound. He sighs at how the sword always fell to his pen, but knows the scythe always wins. Perhaps then a peace he still dreams might come will reveal itself before he hears the swoosh of that existential steel. And, if comes too late, he must assume the role a scar on a piece of someone else’s past. But wouldn’t it be grand to hear that voice say, “Would you write me again.”?

A 200-word free written bit of what feels like literary (those probably not literate) confession and self-imposed penance. Hey, you sit down without a shred of inspiration, you can’t expect Shakespeare or Kendrick Lamar. You just hope and expect ‘something’ will appear eventually. Oh, and the new photo, old regrets and ancient scar (I have many more, some of which you can’t see) are all ©Joseph Hesch.

Lamentations 1:1

He’s not too a bad guy,
he has feelings as deep and sore
and soaring as anyone else’s.
Maybe even more so, we just don’t know
Few of us have ever seen them
as he moved through
the vacuum of his days.
I once caught him in one of his
brooding moods, the ones maybe
you’ve seen or you’ve felt.
He broke through the 1,000-mile stare
and wall of his self-imposed isolation
to look up at me, half-grinned
and raised his chin in greeting.
He hummed his shrugged-shouldered humph
when I inquired how he was.
And then he surprised me with
“I’m sorry.”
“What are you sorry for?
You haven’t done anything to me,” I said.
“I’m sorry because I’ve never expressed
to anyone my regrets for my sins and omissions,
never cried at their funerals,
never spoke up about how I truly felt,
never professed my love to those
I should have and never moved on
from the ones I shouldn’t,” he said.
“Why are telling me this?” I asked.
“Because you’re the only one I can
and that’s what I lament the most,”
he said, as we turned away from
the mirror and switched off the light.

On Day #12 of this National Poetry Month PAD Challenge, I was charged with writing a poem based on the word “lament.” Oh, I know a lot about that one. I just have never done it right. And I still haven’t. Thank you for reading.

Full Stop.

He hates to think
he’ll reach The End and
never have the chance
to close their story
with a clean, contented dot,
punctuation connoting
the final exhalation
of a spoken breath.

Her draft still
bears that bold-face
exclamation point,
bolt-upright, indignant,
with arms akimbo…
if !” had any arms.

His version sports
what they once called
an interrogation mark,
a Quasimodo “?” questioning
something they still
didn’t understand,
only that he’s either
the clueless or callous
actor who prompted
her reaction.

They say he’s not got
much of a future
to look forward to
and his vision’s grown
too befogged to clearly
discern the past.
So he wonders if
some day she might
just say hello.

Perhaps then they
could bid goodbye to
the figures who cast
their shadows upon
what once was yet
never could be
and place that .,
a simple declarative
conclusion, on this,
a story better left
…unwritten.

First-draft desparate free-write. Full stop.

Tunnel of Loves

Sometimes he can almost
make out what he’s looking for
deep in his Well of Memories.
Could be they’re glimpses
of what he actually experienced,
or maybe pieces of some other
recollection torn, dented
and stuck on their way down
in the shadowy moss fuzzing up
the view of this ever darkening
tunnel of loves lost and found?
Did she really say what he sees
in that unlikely clump of lichens?
Or is that merely a couple of dreams
he lost when finally he awakened?
Is that truly the touch
of her cheek to his or just
another soft thing he can’t recall
if he stole or merely wished
would warm him now when the world
grows colder, darker and
more regretful by the night.
Sometimes, when the moon’s just right,
he thinks he sees her face there
at the bottom, watching him
as he searches for something
no one ever saw but him.
Probably it’s just his face
reflecting back into those eyes
that hope they’ll find her there,
or see she might still care,
or the image of her ever thinking
she sees the same things
in the dark memories into which
she stares. If she ever dares.

Perhaps Among the Ashes a Spark Remains

As my days grow shorter,
this heart grows darker.
And as I look within
more and more, I see
the ashes of fires I made
with the torches I carried.
In what light still filters inside,
I see I’m surrounded by piles
of charcoal, charred remnants
of kindling I stacked and,
with warm words, teased
to flickering life
the gossamer tinder of whoever
I thought we were.

Some died from lack of heat,
others I failed to tend to enough,
and that one over there
you stomped out and kicked aside.
I wander this mausoleum of misses,
and gaze at the spaces
where heartwarming fires
turned to cold-hearted pyres.
Perhaps I’m just trying to find
a memory as I sigh among the ashes.
Or maybe I’m looking
for a spark or glow I might
breathe once more to life
and rekindle a lost friendship
before my own fire goes out.

The Empty Dotted Line

You never signed up for this,
I know. But neither did I.
The fact you’re a part of this
one and that and who knows
how many more of my fragments
of lives lived and unlived,
loved and unloved, shouldn’t
leave you too surprised.
You lurk in the shadow places
my memory can’t fully illuminate,
the wells once full of possibility
of what could have been love, back
when love actually meant something.
But I stumbled, mumble-mouthed,
in my one chance to connect while
my words carried might, but not
the light for you to find my
dotted line.

Hopeless

He said it may not always
have been so hopeless,
though hopeless is what
it always became.
The timing wasn’t right,
or maybe it was the light
he never saw shining from
her standing before him.
He went his way, or
she went hers, and
they ended up estranged
in their own strange ways.
When I asked why, he shook
his head and sighed,
their ships having sailed,
even passing in the night,
when he often thinks of her
and she, once, of him.
He tosses his way saying “It’s…”
She turns hers, with, “He’s…”
Each punctuating their
exclamations with
“Hopeless.”

No Regrets, Just One Surrender

When they finally discover my bones —
should the occasion ever arise
that a future someone stumbles upon me
while clearing a plot for Hydrangeas,
tomatoes or more bones —
when they crack through and find
the cracks I’ve put in this
old skeleton, will they wonder
what this being did to collect so many
breaks in his framing pieces?
Will they see the two scarred ribs
and know that each happened in
a different winter of my discontent?
Will they wonder over the dents and
cracks in the skull, and think it was
the castle keep of a warrior’s mind?
Or that of a poet who always tried playing
above his program weight, usually failed,
but never failed to try again?
I wonder if they’ll see my family placed
my coach’s whistle around my neck,
my tablet in one hand and this secret optimist’s
(broken) fingers crossed one upon the other?
What they won’t find will be any markers
of regret on this old fossil for any
of this busted crockery of mine left behind.
I gladly earned each and every one of them.

Day 26 of NaPoWriMo calls for a poem about what future archaeologists, whether human or from alien civilization, will make of us. I took that prompt it right down to the bones. My bones.

Conspiracy to Commit

heart-prison-window-25529149

If not a high crime
it surely was a misdemeanor
he relived along with
his fantastic projections
based on what-if and if-only.
But the five-and-dimer
never made his big score,
only cased the joint,
admired the merchandise
and drew closer and closer
in a tightening coil
until he choked on
the perfume of the object
of his obsession.
He sighs, replaying
all the times he coulda
and shoulda. But it was
his heart ending up
her stolen property.
In its place he keeps
the faded Wanted poster
to keep him warm while
doing life in solitary.

Another mashed-up metaphor strung out over 100 words in what might be an anti-Valentine’s Day poem. But really, it’s a love poem in its own way.